Contents 12 Digging for treasure on the island First the Lehman brothers and then the volcanic ash cloud ruined Malta’s plans to get its finances in order. Vanessa Macdonald finds that Minister Tonio Fenech is coping well under pressure.
16 Putt to the test Food Industries Ltd. Director Stefan Borg Manduca hits a hole in one on golf, art and what makes a good businessman.
23 Back to the future Two decades ago, Pippa Toledo switched from fashion to interior design. Now, she is retracing her steps, she tells Alison Bezzina.
26 Light at the end
of the tunnel
As European social partners meet the EU to debate the exit strategy, Vanessa Macdonald asks whether crisis management will continue to overshadow target achievement.
29 Planning your retirement Your retirement need not be an ageold problem, says Stuart Fairbairn.
33 The next generation Only about 30 per cent of family businesses manage to make it to the second generation. Mario Duca explains how succession planning can successfully help you manage the transition process.
35 Profiting from shortterm gains
Long-term approach to investing is firmly a thing of the past, says Mark Hollingsworth.
39 An important first step Reuben M. Buttigieg comments on the MFSA Guidance Note for Shariah-compliant funds.
43 The credit management function in today’s business How can the credit function help businesses attract more customers and maintain market share, asks Josef Busuttil.
47 A cloud with silver lining
For Owen Cutajar, by leveraging cloud computing technologies you can cut down on your business costs.
50 Island in the fun The best way to go from bored room meetings to sun, sea and no text is via Mauritius, says Mona Farrugia.
66 A lunch that
By Mark Zerafa from Zeri’s restaurant, Portomaso Marina.
68 What’s on Investing in culture pays.
70 A good day at the office Put your stress in the out tray, says Claude Camilleri.
72 A 20 min workout will fix it If you’re too busy for long workouts, then the Power Plate is your shortcut to fitness. Don Ross shows you four quick exercises.
74 Blah, blah, blah Mind your business language, says Alison Bezzina, especially when it’s a woman’s signature you’re after.
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Welcome Welcome to Money, a new publication that combines finance, luxury and lifestyle in one stylish package.
Editor Anthony P. Bernard
Most business publications in Malta are either so focused on the balance sheets that they forget everything else, or else concentrate on anything except what makes businesses successful.
Consulting Editor Stanley Borg
On the other hand, Money means business. And we do it in style because we believe that to be a leader in the corporate world, you need to look good and feel good. Hence our winning combination of learned features on business, finance, ICT, EU affairs and law together with features that address your health and wellbeing, luxury, and wardrobe. The Money fashion shoot is set to become a must-see for everyone - looks, clothes and style do matter in the boardroom, and by helping you look good, we’re also bringing you closer towards clinching that deal. Yet our biggest strength is a robust and experienced team of contributors, each an expert in their own area. Money contributors are successful businesspeople, leading thinkers, valuable researchers and consultants. The common thread is that they all pursue success, just like you do. In this first issue of Money, which has the theme of ‘New Beginnings’, Vanessa Macdonald interviews the Finance Minister on the post-recession economy. We also meet businessman Stefan Borg Manduca, who is busy expanding and diversifying his business. New beginnings are not just about starting a new business, but also about taking new directions. Stuart Fairbairn writes on the pension reform and on planning your retirement while Mario Duca advises how succession planning can help you take your business to the second generation. On the style front, Pippa Toledo unveils her new handbag and jewellery collection while Mona Farrugia takes a stylish break from office life in Mauritius. And don’t miss our fashion shoot and weekend must-haves. With Money, we want to help you set up and run your business. We want to make you successful and help you pursue newer goals and higher benchmarks. We want to help you make money and tell you how to spend and invest it wisely. With Money, we want to make you richer. Read on and enjoy.
Design Jon Calleja | www.unbrandme.com Cover Photo Kris Micallef | www.krismicallef.com Printing Progress Press Distribution Mailbox Direct Marketing Group Hand delivered to all businesses in Malta and selected Vodafone corporate clients For any information regarding editorial, promotion or advertising contact Tel: 00 356 2134 2155 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Money is published by BE Communications Ltd, 37, Amery Street, Sliema SLM 1702 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without written permission. Opinions expressed in money are not necessary those of the editor or publisher. All reasonable care is taken to ensure truth and accuracy, butthe editor and publishers cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions in articles, advertising, photographs or illustrations. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcome but cannot be returned without a stamped, selfaddressed envelope. The editor is not responsible for material submitted for consideration.
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Digging for treasure on the island First the Lehman brothers and then the volcanic ash cloud ruined Malta’s plans to get its finances in order. Vanessa Macdonald finds that Finance Minister Tonio Fenech is coping well under pressure. Photos by George Scintilla.
ho would want to be Finance Minister? Tonio Fenech is running over an hour late and clearly aware of the fact that he has other people waiting for the interview to finish. And yet, he does not come across as either distracted or under pressure. Which is marvellous, when you think about it, because he is under pressure. A lot of pressure.
deficit of €297 million and debts of €3,887 million.
Malta had a plan for getting its finances in order and just about when he should have been patting himself on the back, along came the Lehman brothers. Minister Fenech didn’t panic and go for knee-jerk reactions, but sifted through other member states’ strategies and opted for one aimed at using government money to replace the normal flows that dried up through the recession.
“Targets depend on what happens during the year. Forecasts are based on various assumptions which may or may not materialise. Clearly we will do our best to reach the targets.”
He also banked on the support of the private sector - for example, while other countries could afford to lay off excess employees because they knew they would be able to replace them post-recession, companies in Malta knew that their employees were worth their weight in gold and would not be easy to replace. And so those who saw order books drop, by a third in some cases, went on reduced hours. The government kept up its capital expenditure increasing it by €49.2 million - and ending the year with a
12 - Money / Issue 01
You would think numbers like that would be enough to make a Finance Minister shudder but he is still aiming to bring the level down below 3 per cent of GDP from its current level of 3.8 per cent. Will he get there? He is careful to add a disclaimer clause:
“In light of the circumstances, Malta is doing fairly well compared to other European countries which went significantly haywire in terms of projections and financial sustainability commitments. We performed well compared to the EU. We managed to ride the storm much better.” One of the assumptions the Minister refers to is that the economy was starting to recover and the recession was ending, not only in Malta but more crucially in the markets that buy its products and send us their tourists. And then along came the ash cloud from the unpronounceable volcano in Iceland. So much for assumptions.
“The new economy especially the creative sectors - does not require factories but purposebuilt office space. These are new business opportunities and we need to move on.” Even if tourism picks up - as it did in the first three months until the cloud - and tax revenue bounces back, boosted by the one-off €40 million the government brought in through schemes aimed at collecting arrears, will it be enough? The Central Bank is forecasting a deficit to GDP ratio of 4 per cent for this year and admitted that it was not able to model 2011 as it did not yet have enough information about the government’s strategy. Minister Fenech is not unduly worried. He may have to answer to the electorate but he is quite happy to agree to disagree with the CBM. “I don’t divulge the 2011 budget to the Governor. I cannot give him those specifics as I don’t give them to anyone at this stage. There is a budget process: we issue the pre-budget document and start consultation and decide on the measures. Lowering the ratio from 3.8 per cent to 3 per cent is only 0.8 per cent, which is achievable through cost-reduction or revenue measures. It is not the same situation as in Greece where they have to address a mammoth deficit issue and have to give the market confidence by giving very specific information about what measures they will take,” he says. “We believe that we will be able to achieve our targets under what the European Commission calls a No Policy Change scenario, with efforts to improve cost efficiency and revenue efficiency.” The mention of revenue always rings alarm bells. Is revenue efficiency a euphemism for higher taxes? “It is too early to answer this sort of question. If the economy recovers then we would not need to introduce new taxes and I will therefore keep that position. Clearly we have to make sure that the budget we drew up for this year gives us the results in terms of expected revenue,” he says. There are other changes that are not related to the recession which Minister Fenech takes into consideration. A major step forward was the privatisation of two of Malta Shipyards’ four units, which helps both by sparing the government the subsidies it paid in the past as well as turning the units into net-donors to the economy, creating jobs and hopefully profits. The government also decided to reject the bids made
Money / Issue 01 - 13
for the other two units (a superyacht facility and a shipbuilding one) because the bids were not good enough. The decision was controversial as it had wasted over a year. Would he turn out to be the dog that dropped the bone it had in its mouth because it thought the bone in the reflection was larger? Yet the Minister may yet have the last laugh. The government is going to review the shipbuilding site’s potential and if it gets better bids - and the fact that the economic climate is now better will not hurt - the minister will emerge as having been courageous rather than foolish for not having taken the money. And even the rapid drop in construction permits - in 2009, for residential units, half what they were two years before - is not much of a concern. “The industry does not only depend on residential development - this year and next year, major projects underway will still keep them busy. And I always tell contractors to look at where the economy is evolving - it is diversifying and office space is very much in demand. Malta is becoming very attractive for financial services and ICT. The new economy - especially the creative sectors - does not require factories but purpose-built office space. These are new business opportunities and we need to move on.” How countries emerged from the recession had a lot to do with how competitive they were and the Governor of the CBM, Michael Bonello, in April expressed concern about Malta’s unit labour costs, saying that they were high and getting higher. Again, the minister politely rebuffs the concern. “The real measure of our unit labour cost is not statistics but investment. This country is continuing to attract foreign direct investment and a number of operations have expanded in Malta. They keep repeating one thing: that our labour costs for the levels of production we have are very efficient. The problem is that when you take it from a statistical point of view, you take the levels of production of the whole economy including the public sector - and not that of a particular sector. Business people take decisions on where to locate investment not based on generic labour costs but on those in their sector, whether engineering or accountants,” he says. Central Bank forecasts 2009
Domestic demand Net exports HICP Unemployment Deficit/GDP Debt/GDP
1.3% -0.5% 1.6% 7.2% -4% 69.3%
1.9% -0.2% 2% 7.1% -4% 70.9%
-2.6% 5.2% 1.8% 7% -3.8% 67.4%
Up to speed Reliable high-speed internet access has become an integral part of doing business. Vodafone’s new office broadband solutions with upload speeds of up to 2Mbps, can help businesses of any size to be as agile, efficient and competitive as much larger companies. Get your business up to speed with Vodafone. Connection is free and there’s no installation fee either. For more information visit www.vodafone.com.mt/officebroadband. 14 - Money / Issue 01
Putt to the test
Food Industries Ltd. Director Stefan Borg Manduca hits a hole in one on golf, art and what makes a good businessman. Photos by Kris Micallef.
he next time you unwrap an ice cream, think of Stefan Borg Manduca.
Everything you need to know about Stefan Borg Manduca, 45, is right here in his office at the EORC building in Marsa. First, there is a series of paintings by John Borg Manduca, his father. Then there are the views of the Marsa golf club outside the window. And finally there is a small banner of Wall’s heartshaped logo. As the parked refrigerator trucks outside gear up for a hot summer of delivering Algida ice creams all over Malta, Mr Borg Manduca confirms that “Ice cream has always been my baby.” Borg Manduca is Director of Food Industries Ltd., a member of the EORC Group of Companies. The EORC Group itself is part of the WJ Parnis England Group, a holding company whose interests range from international shipping to the manufacture of industrial cleaning chemicals. Set up in 1899, the WJ Parnis England Group is today part of the island’s commercial history and a respected investor in a wide range of commercial enterprises in Malta. “The EORC Group has multiple interests, from edible oils, confectionery and drinks to frozen products, household cleaners and the production of biodiesel. Having started production in 1954, the EORC linked up with Unilever Export to set up a manufacturing plant producing household brands. Products included detergent powders and liquids, toothpastes, scouring cream, deodorants, shampoos and specialty products. In 1968 the company also ventured into the production of margarine and fats on behalf of Unilever, including brands such as Stork, Blueband, Flora and the Craigmillars Bakery range.” “At the time, I was busy gaining experience in all the EORC departments. Then in 1988 I had the opportunity to set up Food Industries Ltd. to handle all imported ice cream for Unilever brand Algida (Wall’s), which is the market leader worldwide.” “Launching imported ice cream in Malta was a very big risk. First, there was the massive investment involved - we built a new cold store, bought refrigerated trucks and set up a distribution network. Moreover, at the time, our market research showed us that our price was three and a half times that of the
16 - Money / Issue 01
local product. This was mainly due to the import duty which was charged to protect local industry. But we knew that we had a great product and we still went ahead.” “I remember that when the first container was being unloaded, I was looking at all the ice cream and wondering how we would manage to sell all of it. But being such high quality ice cream, it just flew off the shelves. Our main product was an ice cream called Winner - it certainly lived up to its name. “More than two decades later, we are now in a situation where the Maltese consume one of the highest amount of Algida ice cream per capita in Europe. Food Industries Ltd. has also added Ben & Jerry’s, a super premium ice cream, to its portfolio. Recently, we have been appointed as the ice cream distributor in Libya - this will certainly be a challenge as ice cream is a very delicate product to handle. Yet I have enough experience in the market to be optimistic about this new venture.” “An ice cream business suffers in the lean months of winter, so we also diversified with other imported products, like Chupa Chups, Pago, Le Tre Marie, Orangina and more. We are also planning to strengthen our position in the retail sector - this is very different from importation as it is a cash business, whereas importation is based on credit. But it is an efficient way to balance our finances.”
“I received a letter from Stefan Sick, Holland & Barrett’s Global Franchise Manager, who confirmed that although one of the smallest markets, we have proven to be one of the most successful franchise markets in all areas.”
Money / Issue 01 - 17
The Maltese consume one of the highest amount of Algida ice creams per capita in Europe. “Holland & Barrett marks the start of our retail operation. Seven years ago I wrote to Holland & Barrett but at the time they were not pursuing a franchise strategy. Then three years ago they wrote back to say that they were interested in opening up in Malta. There were other local parties interested in the Holland & Barrett franchise, but they chose Food Industries Ltd.” “Currently operating over 1,000 retail stores in six countries, Holland & Barrett is Europe’s largest health chain and the world’s largest vitamin, mineral and supplement manufacturer. One of Holland & Barrett’s strong points is the highly-trained staff. All sales staff receive very rigorous training at the Holland & Barrett training academy. To work for Holland & Barrett, they must sit for exams and further their studies every six months.” “Since opening our first outlet in St Julians eight months ago, we managed to become a leading franchise. Recently I received a letter from Stefan Sick, Holland & Barrett’s Global Franchise Manager, who confirmed that although one of the smallest markets, we have proven to be one of the most successful franchise markets in all areas. That has given us the added boost to plan the opening of another Holland & Barrett outlet in Attard and another four outlets around the island.” “The health and sport business is growing, and Holland & Barrett is an important presence in this sector. In fact, one of the first things that I did when we got Holland & Barrett in Malta was sponsor Mario Mifsud, Malta’s leading powerlifter and world champion in the -125kg category.” “What is especially interesting for me is that Holland & Barrett was founded by Samuel Ryder, of the Ryder trophy fame, which is the
biggest golfing tournament in the world. And as you can tell, golf is my sport.” Apart from the views of the Marsa golf club right across the street, there are countless trophies around the office marking Borg Manduca’s success in the sport. “Golf is my sport,” he says. “Andy Borg, the island’s leading golfer, is my cousin, so I come from very good pedigree,” he smiles. “I’m so passionate about the sport that I have to keep the window blinds down. Otherwise, the view of the Marsa club would be too much of a temptation.” Borg Manduca’s other passion is art. Again, here he can boast a formidable pedigree: his father, John Borg Manduca, is a leading artist who is renowned for his oils in palette-knife technique while his mother is qualified in Ikebana, the traditional Japanese art of flower arranging. Moreover, Richard England is his uncle. Whatever Borg Manduca pursues, he does so with a passion. This also explains how Food Industries Ltd., the youngest member of the EORC Group, is also one of the most successful, with a very high quality portfolio of products. “We operate in a very limited market,” says Borg Manduca. “But it is these limitations that make Maltese good and resilient businessmen.” “What makes Food Industries Ltd. a market leader is our personal touch. I, for instance, still visit clients on a daily basis and deal with them personally - I don’t like staying for long hours in my office. When I first set up Food Industries Ltd., I was on my own, and these people helped me and stayed with me for 22 years. More than clients, they are friends.”
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18 - Money / Issue 01
The only business tool you’ll ever need! BlackBerry® Bold™ 9700 smartphone from Vodafone starting from €99
While striking from afar, only when you’ve held the new BlackBerry® Bold™ 9700 smartphone in your hand, can you truly appreciate the precision and elegance of its design. Sleek, refined, and created with impressive materials and textured finishes, the BlackBerry Bold smartphone captures the true essence of top tier design. It boasts of a high quality speakerphone and background noise suppression technology. With its clean lines, easy-to-use trackpad, long-lasting battery, full QWERTY keyboard and sophisticated design, the BlackBerry Bold smartphone is made to fit your life. he smartphone’s operating system offers users email management T and calendar enhancement as well as a better browsing experience with faster processing. With its robust connectivity options this 3G smartphone enables users to stay easily connected, whether it is through phone, email, IM or social networking sites. Its built-in GPS supports maps and other location-based applications, as well as photo geo-tagging. Its media player supports videos, pictures and music with a music play now extended up to 38 hours! It can also run the BlackBerry Desktop Manager for both PC and Mac, and BlackBerry® Media Sync for easily syncing iTunes® and Windows Media® Player. Vodafone is committed to be the first in the market to give its customers the most innovative and latest products and services.
To learn more about this new phone visit vodafone.com.mt/blackberry or call at one of Vodafone’s Retail Outlets.
BlackBerry®, RIM®, Research In Motion®, Sure Type®, Sure Press® and related trademarks, names and logos are the property of Research In Motion Limited and are registered and/or used in the U.S. and countries around the world. Used under license from Research In Motion Limited.
20 - Money / Issue 01
Money / Issue 01 - 21
Back to the future Two decades ago, Pippa Toledo switched from fashion to interior design. Now, she is retracing her steps, she tells Alison Bezzina. Photography by Chris Sant Fournier.
hilst bagaholics and fashion lovers might be craving for a Chloé, a Marc Jacobs, or perhaps a Miu Miu, Pippa Toledo is busy designing and manufacturing her own designer handbag collection - the first of its kind for the Maltese islands. As she herself puts it, “Quite frankly I needed a change.” “I love the world of interiors,” she insists. “It’s my bread and butter, and I love the hunt for new materials. I get totally lost in trying to find new ways of applying colour, creating innovative ways of designing rooms, sourcing different fabrics and using them in the most original way to turn a house into a stylish home. I will always be doing that, but there comes a time for new beginnings, new sources of excitement, and this is the time for me.” “Some months ago I was hit with a lethal dose of inspiration. By now I know that when this happens, I just have to follow my creative gut feeling and get down to it,” she explains. “First I started importing some very stylish jewellery which I displayed in a special section of my Home and Interiors shop in Amery Street, Sliema. Within days it was clear that the collection was going to be a big success. Of course, true to my nature, I could not stop there. So after toying with the idea of creating a scarf or sarong collection to go with the jewellery, I decided to crack the hardest nut of all my possible options - a designer handmade collection of unique handbags.”
22 - Money / Issue 01
“It’s not easy to break into a new industry here in Malta, because the market is so small and limited, but I was never one to calculate and weigh the risks before jumping head-first into something. So without thinking much about the money, the investment and all those things that entrepreneurs usually do before going out on a limb, I contacted an old friend of mine and asked her to come on board. We had worked together a long time ago, when I first started my career in the fashion industry, and because we’re both natural perfectionists we always worked brilliantly together. So when she accepted to work for me again I was elated.” “It’s a great partnership. I design the bags - I think about the colours, the style, and source the materials. I also finish them by hand. My partner, the world’s best seamstress, takes care of the bags’ structure and base. I love it because we go into so much detail. Each bag is a work of art, just like one of my paintings. Even on the inside, the bags are stylish and practical with materials sourced from all over the world.” “We’ve been working around the clock for the past couple of months and we’re now up to 50 unique bags. I’d like to launch the first summer collection with about 100 different bags but I realise that we’re a little late for that. The plan is to launch the summer collection on June 14 and start working on the winter collection immediately after.” “I realise of course that putting my creative impulses ahead of the business case sounds crazy, but that’s the way I work, and it’s been successful
so far. I take pride in the fact that all the bags are unique and that the styles will vary from casual to wedding type classical bags. Part of the recipe is that I never stick to my own design - instead I always throw in a final dose of impromptu creativity.” “I wore a couple of my bags to weddings and I immediately got a positive response from women asking me where I got them from. This was all the market research I needed to keep going.” “Though I haven’t thought of pricing yet, I will make sure that there will be something for all those who appreciate the value of personally selected materials, handmade workmanship, and the unique quality of such designer bags. I am also planning to venture into the international market with this project as I honestly feel that there is a niche demand that’s still pining for a supply.”
“There comes a time for new beginnings, new sources of excitement, and this is the time for me.”
“At the moment all this is still a dream that’s taking shape with every day that goes by. I work on the bags mostly in the evenings, shattering my fingers in the process, but I can see it becoming a major part of our business, taking off and setting new heights in the fashion industry both locally and overseas.”
Money / Issue 01 - 23
A bold move
he new Jaguar XJ is “a thoroughly modern interpretation of the quintessential Jaguar”, says Ian Callum, Director of Design at Jaguar Cars responsible for the all-new XJ. “Its visual impact stems from the elongated teardrop shape of the car’s side windows, that powerful stance and its wide track.” “It is the most emphatic statement yet of Jaguar’s new design direction. Any good car design - indeed the design of anything of value - should tell a story. The new XJ does that, with a visual hierarchy and clarity of intent. We took inspiration from classic Jaguars like the Mk2 and original XJ and created a Jaguar for the 21st century with pure, sensual forms.” Callum believes the car has a modern, contemporary design that will certainly meet the expectations of people who understand design with a capital ‘D’. “I have no doubt about that whatsoever. It’s a very well-crafted car. It’s also a very designer-led car so that combination, I think, is quite unique.” “The XJ’s lines are beautiful, but we reinterpreted them in quite a different way that actually is right and correct for the 21st century - and that is what’s important. A
24 - Money / Issue 01
Jaguar should be very beautiful, very clear in its intent, but relevant for its time.” “With this car I really do feel that I’ve taken almost 30 years of learning and put it into something that is very complete for me - that’s taken a lot of discipline and a lot of pushing on my part, on my design team’s part, and the engineers. But I think we’ve achieved something very special indeed.” The all-new XJ is the boldest interpretation yet of Callum’s vision for Jaguar in the 21st century. A panoramic glass roof is an integral part of the all-new XJ’s design concept, enabling the car to have a lower, more streamlined roofline, while dramatically enhancing the feeling of light and space inside. The all-new XJ’s distinctive lines mark the next bold evolution of Jaguar’s new design language. The new XJ’s sleek lines are complemented by a taut waistline, which further accentuates the impression of length and elegance and creates a natural tension. The face of the XJ is confident, with a wide front track and short overhangs contributing to the finely judged proportions. The nose of the car follows Jaguar’s new design language, with an assertive treatment.
The strong, muscular lower half of the car is contrasted with the slim and graceful quality of the roofline, which takes inspiration from the original 1968 XJ saloon. The wrap-around rear screen reduces the visual weight of the pillars, and gives the impression of an exotic floating roof. The new XJ doesn’t just look sleek and streamlined: it is, alongside the XF, the most aerodynamic Jaguar ever. The car has a drag coefficient of 0.29, and, equally important, outstanding high-speed stability. The overriding impression from the interior is a sense of personal space, a feeling enhanced by the clean, simple form of the leather-wrapped instrument panel sitting low across the vehicle. At the sides of the cabin, a bold architectural wood veneer sweeps forward from the doors to meet at the front of the car. This linear, modern use of wood helps to create a truly welcoming environment. A dark tint and reflective coating prevent the interior from overheating under strong sunlight, while twin electric blinds provide another level of privacy and sun screening.
LIGHT at the end of the tunnel
As European social partners meet the EU to debate the exit strategy, Vanessa Macdonald asks whether crisis management will continue to overshadow target achievement.
or the past year and a half, all bets were off. The European Commission and the European Central Bank had to take a deep breath and look the other way while member states within and outside the Euro area sacrificed hard-earned financial stability in order to survive. The EU27’s gross domestic product fell a staggering 4.2 per cent in 2009 and there are now 23 million Europeans out of work - that’s seven million more than before the crisis. The only way to get through was to throw money into the whirlwind and hope that enough of it got to where it was needed. The European Economic Recovery Plan was aimed at restoring the confidence of consumers and business, injecting money into the economy through government spending, but also to support monetary and credit policies, fiscal policy, Lisbontype structural reform and external co-operation. The thrust of the EERP was mostly in the form of stimulus packages - keeping the wheels of the economy moving - but these had to be matched by the willingness to stop insisting that governments did not spend money they did not actually have. This was a tall order: the stimulus package accounted for 1.5 per cent of the EU’s GDP - €200 billion - but €170 billion, equivalent to 85 per cent of the total, was to be contributed by member states, which
26 - Money / Issue 01
were seeing their tax revenue falling as economic activity slowed. 20 member states were already facing deadlines to bring their budgets into shape as they exceeded the 3% cap on deficit/GDP ratio, and some (including Malta) had to be given extensions. And so the Commission and the ECB let countries’ deficits and debts soar. The only problem is that they always knew that one day, the party would be over and the hangover would be as bad from justified overspending as it would be from unjustified overspending. So talk began of an exit strategy. Last October the European Council applauded the green shoots of recovery but said that the sharp decline in EU economic activity had ended, financial markets had stabilised, and confidence had improved. At the time - before Greece had thrown the entire Euro area into confusion - the Council was already warning that recovery remains fragile and it was not yet time to withdraw the support governments provided to the economy and the financial sector. “The Council agrees that, beyond the withdrawal of the stimulus measures of the European Economic Recovery Programme, substantial fiscal consolidation is required in order to halt and eventually reverse the increase in debt and restore sound fiscal
Have labour trends bottomed out or will unemployment get worse before it gets better, as history would suggest? positions. The Council underlines that increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of public finances and the intensification of structural reform are desirable even in the short term and will contribute to foster potential output growth and debt reduction,â€? the communiquĂŠ said. In March the European social partners met the EU to debate the exit strategy and the recurring theme of structural reform - raised every month by the President of the ECB Jean-Claude Trichet - in an effort to not only get back to normal levels of activity but to also boost the economy and job creation by 2020. When Finance Ministers met in March, they too agreed on the main principles for exit strategies from government financial support schemes, namely, that phasing out should be coordinated among member states, taking into account country specificities. The Council of Ministers also agreed that the timing of exit should take into account a range of elements, including macro-economic and financial sector stability, the functioning of credit channels, a systemic risk assessment and the natural phasing out by banks, and that the phasing out should start with government guarantees. The Council warned that ongoing measures could start to have unintended
consequences, hampering resource allocation, distorting competition and the functioning of the internal market and putting unnatural locks on the labour market. No one is asking for new shortterm schemes even though clearly there has to be an end to the current ones. Some measures could even prove to be viable in the long-term, like the emphasis on restructuring, research and innovation. But with recovery still subject to high uncertainty and risks from various factors and sectors, it remains to be seen whether crisis management continues to overshadow the achievement of targets for 2020. Are the banks ready to ease credit restrictions (something we have escaped in Malta)? Have labour trends bottomed out or will unemployment get worse before it gets better, as history would suggest? The answers are still not clear. More information is needed and once that has been collated, yet more information will be needed. How long can member states avoid the hangover? At first it was thought that countries would need to dedicate 0.5 per cent of their GDP annually to start bringing their finances in order. The ECBâ€™s Trichet has been warning for months that much more is going to be needed. It may turn out that the EERP has merely delayed the inevitable.
Money / Issue 01 - 27
Planning your retirement Your retirement need not be an age-old problem, says Stuart Fairbairn.
ension reform in Malta has been subject to much debate and reporting since the initial World Bank Report of 2004. There have been changes to the Government-provided state pension and to the rules for international pension schemes wanting to become domiciled in Malta. However we are still awaiting changes to legislation to enable local pension schemes to be established. The Maltese population, like the rest of the world, is getting older. By 2050 the number of people aged over 60 will exceed those under 15 for the first time in history. Currently 10% of people in the world are 60 or older. By 2050 this will be 20% and by 2150 it will be 35%. By 2050 life expectancy in Malta will be 84 and 9% of the population will be over 80.
Stuart Fairbairn is the General Manager of Growth Investments Ltd., which is licensed to conduct Investments Services Business by the Malta Financial Services Authority. Growth Investments Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Middlesea Valletta Life Assurance Company Ltd. that is authorised by the Malta Financial Services Authority to carry on Long Term Business under the Insurance Business Act, 1998.
The effects of an ageing population can be felt on an economic, social and political level. It affects social behaviour and patterns, family composition and living arrangements, health and health care, savings and investments, economic growth and even political voting patterns. However, the most dramatic impact of an ageing population is pension provision. In Malta by 2050 there will only be two persons working for every one person retired (compared to a ratio of 5:1 today). This means that there will be less people working
to support those who have retired. This has serious implications for public finances. The first round of Pension Reform, implemented in 2007, introduced two key changes to the State Pension. The first change was to retirement age, which is increasing and depends on the year of birth. The second change is to the level of benefits - the amount of pension you receive depends on your record of National Insurance Contributions and your Pensionable Income. If you have a full contribution record at retirement then you will be entitled to two-thirds of your Pensionable Income as a pension. In 2010 the maximum Pensionable Income is â‚Ź17,146, meaning the maximum State Pension for anyone retiring in 2010 is â‚Ź219.83 per week. Incentives are yet to be introduced in Malta for private pensions, however that should not stop you from saving for your retirement. Local life assurance companies offer long-term savings plans, called Retirement Plans, because they are specifically designed with retirement in mind. A suitable Retirement Plan offers you access to a good range of investments and is flexible enough to allow you to make regular contributions, one-off single contributions when possible as well as allowing you to take a break from the regular contributions if required.
Money / Issue 01 - 29
Total savings at age 65
ASH YOUR VOICES
Age savings commence
Retirement planning is all about determining what you consider to be an adequate income in your retirement and ensuring that your level of savings and investment strategies are appropriate to meet your goals. State Pensions are not designed to make us rich in our old age but rather to provide a basic standard of living. While the State will provide for the basics, in our retirement we need to accept the responsibility of providing for anything extra. Only you can decide whether the State Pension will be enough for you to do the things you want to do in retirement, like extra holidays, new cars or treating your grandchildren. However, as a rule of thumb you will need at least two-thirds of your final salary in order to maintain the same standard of living you enjoyed while working. Folklore tells us the ostrich has a tendency to bury its head in the sand when it is being pursued by predators, believing that if it can’t see them, then they can’t see it and it will be safe. Applying this concept to human life means that you are ignoring a problem in the hope that it will simply disappear. Unfortunately this is the approach some people seem to take when it comes to planning their future happiness. They ignore the reality of what their retirement will be like if they fail to make the appropriate provisions.
Some people say they will start saving for retirement ‘next year’. Unfortunately ‘next year’ never arrives and before they know it retirement is closer than they would like and they have to try to make up for lost time. One of the keys to successful retirement planning is making sure you start saving as early as possible, The graph shows how much €40 a month could be worth at age 65 assuming you received an annual investment return of 5% (net of any charges). I have also assumed that you increase the amount you save by 5% a year.
The most dramatic impact of an ageing population is pension provision. By splitting the columns we can see the amount you would have contributed compared to the growth or interest added. The earlier you start saving the easier it is to build a larger fund. Not only are you saving more over the long term but the effect of ‘compounding’ means that any growth is added onto previous growth, thus multiplying the returns you get. Another way to consider this is that the earlier you start saving for retirement the less it will cost you and the earlier you can afford to retire. So don’t be an ostrich - face the reality of what retirement is going to be like and start saving before it is too late.
ICE FINANCING, CTION This and article should not be considered as investment advice in any form. The value of your investment may go down as well as up, and past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance. MENT solutions Bank on it
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30 - Money / Issue 01
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Mr Duca MSc (Ang), Dip.Lab., M.I.Diag.E., M.I.M. is the Managing Partner at FBS2M Family Business Solutions at www.2mmanagementconsultancy.com
The next generation Only about 30 per cent of family businesses manage to make it to the second generation. Mario Duca explains how succession planning can successfully help you manage the transition process.
ny type of business has to go through succession procedures, either forced through staff leaving the company or due to staff retiring. This also holds true for family businesses. Doing nothing about this issue will definitely lead to problems for the family business and could lead to disastrous consequences. The main problem would normally be the reluctance of the owner manager to let go of the running of the family business while opting for doing nothing instead. Undertaking a succession planning process from one generation to the next normally raises complex and emotional problems. This explains why many owner managers are reluctant to face these difficult issues and to give up control, hence creating tensions and divisions that can damage the family and be disastrous for business performance. A key feature in succession planning is that no two family businesses are alike - there are rarely right or wrong answers. Instead there are certain problem solving techniques and guiding principles that need to be followed - the FBS2M Consulting Framework provides this through the whywhat-how approach contained in our Consulting Framework.
The paradox of succession When a family business leader starts to think about succession, they have to confront key difficult
questions which relate to who to appoint as the next family business leader and whether any family member is willing and able to take over. Do you appoint a professional manager, should you exit the business through a full or partial sale of the business, should you liquidate the business, or do nothing in the hope that this problem will solve itself? Each option has its own ramifications. Furthermore, any action taken will leave its own impact on the family business. Doing nothing is the least logical and the most costly in all aspects to the family business. Unfortunately, doing nothing or leaving it too late are the most followed routes. In fact, only about 30 % of family businesses manage to make it to the second generation.
The resistance put up to succession planning There are different forces operating simultaneously which could delay or inhibit succession planning within family businesses. These forces are found within the founder or owner manager and their desire to keep control of their business as well as the aversion to planning. The family, through its indecision towards tackling succession, could also be another problem. Understanding these divergent forces is an important step in successfully managing the succession planning and transition processes.
No one finds it easy to come to terms with mortality - the fact that a founder has to start preparing for succession could be viewed as looking at one’s exit. Another issue is that many owners would loathe the thought of letting go of their power, hence surrendering their authority within their own company. Owners very often identify themselves with their business - relinquishing their control of the business would tend to rekindle old identity issues that could be hard to cope with at such a late stage in life. Another common scenario is when the owner takes a stand that, ‘Nobody knows the business as well as I do and no one can manage it as I can’, which could be a cover for the feelings of rivalry and jealousy that the business owner could experience towards the potential successors. When this scenario involves parents and their children, it introduces an extra psychological dimension of fear and hostility. On the other hand, the family could also be the source of pressures that pushes for the delay of the succession issues. Such situations could be related to the founder’s partner being reluctant to welcome and encourage a partner’s move into retirement, dreading the prospect of a reduced standard of living that such a move could result in.
Succession Transition Process Succession planning is a long process and cannot be expected to be successfully undertaken over a short time frame. The most successful transition processes are the result of the establishment of a partnership process between the various generations involved. As soon as an understanding is reached that the business is to
be kept in the family, a succession plan should be developed - this process tends to be successful when the plan is established through a partnership between the generations concerned in the transition. A successful succession process would involve the following steps: starting the planning process early; developing a crossgenerational team; writing up a succession plan; involving family members, both those in the business and those outside the family business; engaging the help of specialist consultants, which would normally involve a team of specialists from different disciplines; establishing a coaching and mentoring process for the successors; planning your retirement; and making retirement an irrevocable and unequivocal process. The last point is of utmost importance so as to eliminate any uncertainty for the successors and the business.
Conclusion The conscious decision of family business owners to embark on the planning process for their succession is often a determining factor whether the business will survive or not. Family businesses that have remained in family ownership for generations owe their success to the various leaders of the family business who would have managed the complex emotional succession issues through the generations. Planning in advance for succession is of the utmost importance and cannot be undertaken through half-baked solutions. Family business owners need a well-structured and coordinated approach towards succession planning if they want to overcome the forces that favour doing nothing.
Money / Issue 01 - 33
Mark Hollingsworth is Managing Director of Hollingsworth International Financial Services, which is authorised by the Malta Financial Services Authority to provide investment services, license IS/32457. www. hollingsworth.eu.com.
Profiting from short-term gains Long-term approach to investing is firmly a thing of the past, says Mark Hollingsworth.
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ore often than not, investors are encouraged to look at investment plans for the long-term. The reason being that over the shorter term of less than two to three years, volatility in stockmarkets or commodity prices can cause losses if sold at an inappropriate time. After substantial corrections in global stockmarkets in 2008, few would argue that trying to make a short-term profit during volatile times is advisable and that looking to invest for five or more years would be a safer strategy. There is however another train of thought which I have been pioneering for the last two to three years - an investment strategy that does not follow the crowd of long-term investing. This alternative approach looks for a mixture of protecting wealth and looking for shortterm gains in specific undervalued sectors. The important point here is the protection of capital as opposed to merely investing in cheap areas. Not all strategies can be expected to work every time so at least protecting the amount you originally invested is wise.
Capital protected investments are no new concept. Locally, products have been offered that are typically linked to one or more stockmarket index such as the UK, US or Asian markets. Their downfall however has been threefold. Firstly, the timeframe for investors is typically five years. Secondly, in order to pay for the capital protection, investors have typically only participated in 60-80% of any gains made in the index. Thirdly, the lack of liquidity of these products almost forces the investor to remain invested for the full term with little advice for investors to sell out early when reasonable profits have been made. There is an alternative. Instead of committing capital for such a long time, fresher innovative products are now available that offer investors far more liquidity as to when to sell. These products also offer predefined returns as opposed to unknown final returns at maturity. The first example is an Autocall Note.
Money / Issue 01 - 35
This product offers a fixed return on a predetermined event, similar to a corporate bond. An example may be a FTSE100 Annual Autocall. If the index is higher on the first anniversary date then the product automatically matures with a fixed return for example of 9%. If the index is lower after one year then it rolls over until the index is higher on any future anniversary. Interestingly, the return is cumulative. So if it takes three years for the FTSE100 to recover then the investor receives 27% (three times 9%). The second example is an Income Note. These often offer a fixed income in the region of 7-9% per annum, payable quarterly and run for typically three to four years. Whereas the income is guaranteed, the full return of capital at maturity may be linked to a basket of mining stocks or energy companies for example. Just like the Annual Autocall, investors can sell out early if the investment basket has increased sufficiently. A situation may arise after one year for example where the value of the stocks has increased significantly and investors could sell out at 10% ‘above par’, having already received the first full year’s income. This is where it is imperative to receive regular advice and updates so that you can take advantage of short-term profits. I would argue that the long-term approach to investing is firmly a thing of the past. If you take the FTSE100 index, anyone investing 12 years ago would still be nursing a loss today if they adopted a ‘buy and hold’ strategy. During this time there have been tremendous gains and terrific losses and the wise investor is someone who looks to take profit periodically as opposed to locking their capital away for five or more years. Autocall and Income Notes are a solution to reducing risk and receiving preset returns, rather than hoping for the best. In summary, I believe that the successful investor is an active investor. My advice is to avoid long-term plans. Instead, look to much shorter term and apply a discipline of selling at the right time, or if not, a sensible time. Out of the ashes of the 2008 stockmarket crash, came new opportunities which take advantage of the lows. Rather than assume a long-term recovery is in place, it is better to pocket gains periodically and move onto the next new opportunity. If you can also protect your capital in the meantime then you can soon become a very successful investor.
It’s a treat to meet at the Phoenicia Hotel Office life is grinding you down? Now you can keep in touch while out of the office thanks to the Phoenicia Hotel. The Phoenicia Hotel is offering free WiFi in its lobby area and the Palm Court Lounge. You can access your e-mail, showcase your projects to business partners, meet clients online, or simply access the internet in the beautiful surroundings of the refurbished lobby and Palm Court Lounge. The bar at
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the Palm Court Lounge is open all day. The Phoenicia Hotel is also offering you a free muffin with every coffee you order. Simply mention this offer to the staff at the lounge and you will be treated to a homemade muffin, courtesy of the Phoenicia Hotel’s award-winning kitchen brigade. This offer is valid until June 4, 2010. For more information visit www.phoeniciamalta.com.
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Reuben M. Buttigieg is Managing Director of Erremme Business Advisors and is currently Council Member, Honorary Treasurer and Memberships Committee Chairman of the Malta Institute of Management. He is also director of MIM Training and Development Ltd.
An important first step Reuben M. Buttigieg comments on the MFSA Guidance Note for Shariah-compliant funds.
guidance note for Shariah-compliant funds issued by the Malta Financial Services Authority on March 25, 2010 is being seen by the industry as an endorsement of what Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi has announced since March 2008. The note, aiming at encouraging even further Shariah-compliant funds to come to Malta, suggests under which legislation certain such funds may apply within the Maltese legislation, even if it limits itself to Equity funds, Ijarah funds, Commodity funds and Murabaha funds. The document is a long-awaited and much appreciated first important step. It offers the basis for new action, perhaps starting with a detailed analysis of the note itself as along with its good elements it also appears to include certain recommendations which one may not agree with considering the way the Islamic funds market operates. Furthermore, there are certain types of contracts that have not been tackled in the note. For instance, the Mudaraba contract in the context of an investment fund was not addressed in the note. The guidance note gives the impression that the MFSA seems to have taken the approach of some jurisdictions that shy away from enshrining consumer protection within their structures. In fact, in the note, the Shariah compliance assurance has been passed on to the Board of Directors. The success of certain jurisdictions in Islamic finance has been the consistency in interpretation allowing due space for the different school of thoughts. The Malaysia model, for instance,
would have been a good structure for Malta in order to present itself to the Eastern investors. Europe has so far attracted much more Islamic funds from Asia than from the Gulf considering the potential markets one may be able to attract and the level of assurance that these would want, the Malaysian model would have been ideal for Malta.
if not an obstacle, for the expansion of the sector in Malta.
The guidance note includes the requirement of the appointment of a Shariah Advisory Board composed of at least two internationally recognised Islamic Shariah scholars. It is difficult to understand how the MFSA intends to determine who is an internationally recognised Shariah scholar. Indeed, this, in itself, may present certain difficulties. To date there are only a few people who can be considered as international scholars who specialise in funds. It would really be a matter of concern if such a requirement translates into a serious complication,
The AAOIFI has ruled that a Shariah board could consist of no fewer than three individuals. It has also decreed that it is acceptable to have at least one person on the board who is not a Shariah scholar, provided that the individual is an expert in the field in which the fund is investing. It further prescribed that the rulings of the Shariah Board must be binding on the management of the fund.
Another element of concern is the fact that the MFSA does not seem to have endorsed in its guidance note internationally accepted principles as issued by internationally renowned standardisation organisations such as AAOIFI or the IFSB.
These AAOIFI rulings present two fundamental differences from the MFSA guidance note, because the
Money / Issue 01 - 39
The impression that the guidance note gives is somewhat different from what is accepted by international boards.
note does not specify the number of persons who should be on the Shariah Board and it does not say that the rulings of the Shariah Board are binding. The impression that the guidance note gives is somewhat different from what is accepted by international boards. Another point is that from the guidance note, it is not clear whether the fund will be allowed to have two different Shariah Boards on certain occasions. Certain funds use different Shariah Boards in view of the specific skills required. For example, one may have a Board at the structuring phase and another after the fund is set up. The different rules and responsibilities of Shariah Boards are coming under scrutiny by organisations such as AAOIFI and IFSB. However, the guidance note once again makes no reference in this regard. Therefore, one is of the opinion that there is room for clarification on what standards the MFSA intends to apply in order to ensure credibility, consistency and consumer protection. This is fundamental for industry and consumer confidence. Although the guidance note speaks of a Shariah Advisory Board, the responsibility of the Board as it appears in the note seems to be that of a Shariah Supervisory Board to
monitor the implementation of the Shariah recommendations. Following this issuance of the MFSA guideline, it will be interesting to see whether the Commissioner of Inland Revenue will take the necessary steps in order to ensure that Shariah Funds are put on a level playing field with other funds. Perhaps Malta should follow the Luxembourg example which continuously engages into changes in order to encourage registration and listings of Shariah compliant funds. Moreover, time is perhaps due for the Malta Stock Exchange to start engaging into this growing activity - a clear direction from the Malta Stock Exchange would surely facilitate the growth of the industry. All in all, the MFSA guidance note constitutes a very important step forward for Malta. It is a significant product of what one may define as a learning curve for the regulator itself that led to considerable improvements in the documents published so far. The industry looks forward to even further improvements. The MFSA is to be commended for issuing the guidance note. The hope now is that this step generates all the follow-up and momentum that is required to ensure that the best possible framework is put in place as early as possible to ensure that this industry is able to grow from Malta too.
GasanMamo launches insurance cover for professionals GasanMamo Insurance has launched a specialist insurance product for professionals that protects the interest of specialists as they operate in their respective fields. This product compliments GasanMamo’s already extensive portfolio of insurance products and is designed to easily adapt to the specific needs of different professionals.
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The policy provides cover for financial damage arising from negligent acts, errors or omissions during the ordinary course of performance of a person’s professional service. The policy may also be extended to cover claims against libel, slander and loss of professional documents and data. “This is another product that
adds to the exhaustive suite of products that GasanMamo Insurance has made available to commercial clients,” said Julian J Mamo, Director at GasanMamo Insurance. “Current legislation today requires that certain professionals such as accountants, architects and engineers take out a Professional Liability policy in order to be able to practice their profession. With this in mind,
GasanMamo has developed a policy with the needs of customers at its core, backed by an excellent service level in underwriting and claims that customers expect from us. We are certain that it will be well received in the local professional community.” For more information call on T: 2134 5123 or visit www.gasanmamo.com.
CASH YOUR INVOICES
We provide INVOICE FINANCING, RISK PROTECTION and CASH MANAGEMENT solutions For the best invoice financing solution, adapted to your business needs, please call us on:
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Josef Busuttil is a Chartered Marketer and is the Director General of the Malta Association of Credit Management.
The Credit Management function in today’s business How can the credit function help businesses attract more customers and maintain market share, asks Josef Busuttil.
o grant and manage credit is expensive and carries risk. Due to the international economic and financial turmoil, banks are being more cautious when granting loans and overdraft facilities to businesses. Insurance companies are being reluctant to cover credit risks while Maltese importers are finding it more difficult to obtain or extend their credit from their foreign suppliers. So why do businesses continue to grant credit themselves to their customers? Statistics show that 80 to 90% of B2B transactions involve payment at a later date and credit terms are often extended. Also, Accounts Receivables (A/R), commonly known as ‘Debtors’, is one of the largest liquid asset representing on average 40% of the total assets of an organisation. Statistics also show how more customers are demanding and expecting credit from their suppliers. When faced with such demand for credit from customers, can businesses compete without granting credit to them? Can they gain and maintain market share if they don’t fully satisfy their customers’ needs and expectations? All the strategies and tactics that businesses adopt should be focused on how to attract more customers and how to maintain market share. The credit function is by no means an exception. Granting and managing credit to customers can serve as a useful tool to gain and sustain competitive advantage. Businesses are aware that due to the current commercial scenario, unemployment has increased, the economic feel-good factor is practically inexistent, and demand has decreased
considerably. Products and services are becoming more homogenous with very little scope for differentiation. Besides, the world has become one big market - from the comfort of our sitting rooms or offices, we can shop around the world for our product needs, compare product features and prices, make our purchases and pay bills online. Purchased products will then be delivered to our door steps in no time. All this has increased the level of competition. Therefore, when faced with such a hostile commercial scenario, can businesses ignore customers’ needs and expectations? Can they afford to lose sales? What can businesses do to stand out? The credit function can help to combat such a hostile business environment. Credit can be used to differentiate products in order to improve long-term business relationships with customers. If businesses grant and extend credit to meet their customers’ expectations, the latter would be satisfied and willing to continue buying from the same suppliers. The scope of granting credit should be that of closing profitable sales that would otherwise be lost. Hence, businesses should grant credit to increase or maintain sales while protecting their cash flow and profit by means of minimising risks associated with credit. This implies focusing on the major components of the credit function.
Credit Sales Approval The approval of credit sales should be the priority of the credit function therefore, the resources required to carry out this activity should be allocated as appropriate. This would result in taking effective and efficient credit decisions in
order to close sales profitably and in a timely manner. The credit function exists primarily to assist in the selling process and to complete a profitable sale - therefore, the credit function should be customer-focused and strive to provide proficient customer care by which long-term customer relationship could be built. Providing good customer service when approving credit sales will support competitive advantage. However, businesses should balance the credit risk with credit rewards. Businesses should get to know their prospective customers. A detailed Credit Application Form should always be completed. A template of a Credit Application Form is made available to all members of the Malta Association of Credit Management. Using such Credit Application Form, MACM Members are able to learn more about their prospective customers while informing them of their credit terms and conditions at the onset of the business relationship with their customers. Patti chiari, amicizie lunghe. Once businesses get to know their customer, they will be able to evaluate the risk involved in that particular credit sale, and therefore, take the appropriate credit decisions in a proactive manner.
Invoicing Another critical activity of the credit function is issuing invoices to customers. Can a business expect to get paid on time if the invoice is not sent on time to the customer? Can a business expect to get paid if the invoice is not clear and is incomplete or inaccurate?
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The Malta Association of Credit Management is a not-for-profit organisation, providing a central national organisation for the promotion and protection of all credit interest pertaining to Maltese businesses. MACM represents the credit profession across all economic sectors. It is a centre of expertise for all matters relating to credit management in Malta. MACM offers a range of services to the local creditors, including credit management information systems, credit management education, training, conferences, seminars, and lobbying activities. MACM is the ICM (UK) accredited Training Centre for Malta and is a member of the Federation of European Credit Management Associations. MACM is the distributor of Graydon International Credit Reports in Malta.
Invoices should be: properly dated and addressed; clear, providing description of goods and delivery address; accurate, showing exact quantities, prices and any discounts applicable; complete, incorporating the agreed payment terms and conditions of sale; and informative, making reference to any matter pertaining to the sale or payment, as agreed in the conditions of sale. A template of a proper Invoice document is also made available by MACM to its members.
Past Due A/R Management The third vital activity of the credit function is the management of past due accounts receivables (A/R). It is important to keep in mind that past due A/R management is not collections, or enforcement of payment but it is simply part of the process to complete the sale. Collections, even collections of past due accounts, is part of the A/R management and the attitude of the credit practitioners should remain positive at all times. This asset (past due A/R) needs to be managed effectively in order to gain more profitable business, while keeping losses to a minimum. Repeat sales from existing customers are the most profitable sales as they reduce administrative and marketing costs. Studies contend that the cost involved in selling to a new customer is three times greater than the cost involved in selling to an existing customer. Therefore, customers should be provided with good service at all times in order to maintain good customer relationship and encourage repeat sales. Nevertheless, selling on credit to existing customers would entail identifying potential losses at an early stage and closely monitoring past due customers to keep losses to a minimum. Members of MACM have a facility whereby they monitor each and every account on a daily basis.
Communication The fourth major component of the credit function is communication. During the course of approving credit customers
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and managing A/R, the credit function interacts with almost every aspect of the business. The credit function’s role has to relate to customers, salespersons, finance people, lawyers, distribution, warehouse team, and other business units that collectively make a sale happen. Therefore, the credit function is perfectly positioned to communicate effectively with these stakeholders and have a bird’s eye view of the whole business process. Hence, it can detect internal inefficiencies and identify areas of opportunity for improvement. Communication in this context also means measuring the credit function performance and reporting the results to the top management team. The business world is continuously changing and managing change has become a critical role of every manager. But what has changed in the credit function to meet today’s changes? Are the credit functions still measuring their performance by means of DSO (days sales outstanding) Ratio and Percentage Bad Debts? What other tools are being used to measure the effectiveness and the efficiency of the credit function in terms of cash flow and customer relationship management? In today’s commercial world, if a credit department uses only DSO as its measuring tool, it will be neither effective nor profitable to the business organisation. The DSO ratio on its own has little or very limited value because it does not account for customer retention, nor does it measure customer satisfaction, which is required to sustain long-term customer relationship in today’s business environment where demand is shrinking. Therefore, it is suggested to make use of measuring tools that would assist the firm to gain and sustain competitive advantage in the market; to continuously improve the internal systems; and to provide good customer service. One of the suggested tools is the Balance Score Card developed by Norton & Kaplan in 1992, as it takes into consideration both the financial and the non-financial aspects in order to satisfy the expectations of all the stakeholders and meet today’s changing market needs.
Constant improvement of processes and procedures would result in better efficiency and lower cost of doing business. This is another critical issue of the credit function under the communication component. But how can a business achieve constant improvement? The secret lies in motivating employees, in building and sustaining a strong team. This would entail introducing the concept of ‘internal customers’ within the business organisations. Also, all employees should understand the role of the different departments and business functions and appreciate while respecting the importance of each. One cannot imagine a successful business organisation without an effective sales team and an efficient distribution department – likewise, one cannot conceive a profitable and sustainable business organisation without a proactive credit management department. Therefore, the internal conflicts between the sales and the credit teams should stop. It should be appreciated that the Sales Team triggers the sale, and the Credit Practitioners complete the sale in a profitable manner. Therefore, treating employees and peers as internal customers - satisfying and meeting their needs - should help to improve the internal systems and procedures. This should also help to enhance the internal relationship and team building and this would in turn reflect in better customer service and sustained competitive advantage, which is the name of today’s business game. For more information visit www.macm.org.mt
Owen Cutajar is a UKbased IT and services consultant and runs www.mba-geek.com.
I’d like to focus in particular on IT costs. Most businesses need some sort of IT infrastructure. Even the most basic business is going to need e-mail, a word processor and a spreadsheet. As the business profile increases in sophistication and maturity, we find greater use of IT, up to the point where technology use becomes the core to the business. Larger packages like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and BI (Business Intelligence) live up here, packages that traditionally had massive cost footprint with costs associated with package procurement, upgrades and IT support staff. But regardless of the size of your business, the IT budget can be pretty significant. The good news is that this is one area where cost can be driven down.
A cloud with silver lining For Owen Cutajar, by leveraging cloud computing technologies you can cut down on your business costs.
hether a business is successful or not usually boils down to a couple of simple questions. The first one that needs to be asked is “Are we generating enough revenue?” This is usually a function of the marketing side of your business, responsible for making sure that you provide a service or product that has adequate demand. Obviously there are other nuances here, including customer satisfaction and engagement, but in the end this revenue is the lifeblood of our business. The other side of this equation is another question: “Are we keeping our costs low enough?” Profit, the raison d’être for the business, can only be achieved if our revenues outweigh our cost profile. So minimising our costs, an operational concern particularly important in today’s economic climate, should always be high on our agenda.
In the last 10 years or so, there has been an interesting development in the software market that promises to help push these costs down. This development has had a few interesting buzz words like Cloud Computing or Software as a Service, but it essentially means using software that is delivered over the web instead of being installed on your own servers. Costs vary, but most cloud vendors offer versatile price structures that can undercut the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of traditional software hosted on your own servers. Estimates vary, but cost savings of 20 to 60% are often quotes once you factor in upgrades and IT staff. Let’s take a practical example and analyse some of these costs using an imaginary Maltese company with five employees. Regardless of what sector the company is operating in, it is bound to need an office suite supplying word processor, spreadsheet and e-mail functionality. Going down the traditional route, you would probably find Microsoft Office installed on staff computers. Microsoft Office retails for around €450 per user (assuming Microsoft Office Small Business Edition). It’s a one-time cost, but let us assume we’ll use this for five years before upgrading. There are a number of cloud based solutions that provide the same functionality, but one that has been recommended to me was Zoho. The Professional subscription costs around €40 per user per year, which brings the
total procurement cost to €200 per user over a five-year period. This is well below the cost of Microsoft Office. Note that this example doesn’t take into account any difference in functionality or features in each package. It is not meant to encourage people to switch vendors - in fact, Microsoft is planning a web hosted version of Microsoft Office 2010 which will probably have a different cost profile to the standalone version. However, it does highlight the cost differential between buying an off-the-shelf package today as opposed to using a cloud-based one. One important factor to add here is that if after two years you decide to scale back and reduce the size of your team to three instead of the original five employees, then with Zoho you can reduce your monthly spend, while off-the-shelf packages cannot be returned for a refund (though you can certainly have some fun trying). Software as a Service is a growing segment online, thanks to the flexible pricing and the economies of scale that can be achieved online. An interesting report by Forester Research called TechRadar For Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals: Software as a Service (which can be found at www.forrester.com/go?docid=46747) talks about some research they did in 2009 showing that among their sample of international businesses, 21% of enterprises were piloting or already using SaaS and another 26% were interested in or considering it. Some packages were more prone to make the transition into the online world and in particular Forrester identified 13 segments that were on the rise, which were: Archiving and eDiscovery; Business Intelligence; collaboration; CRM; digital asset management; enterprise content management; enterprise resource planning; human resources; integration; IT management; online backup; supply chain management; web content management; and web conferencing. This research would indicate that if you’re looking to invest in one of these areas, looking to a cloud-based solution may give you significant savings over the lifetime of your project. Though I have painted a rosy picture above, my parting comments have to be a word of caution about these technologies.
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The market is maturing quickly but there are still risks you need to recognise. First of all, you’re depending on a third party to ensure your systems are up and running, your data is safe and there is no or little interruption of service. If a company based in the US decides to take its systems down for maintenance and schedules a down slot at 4:00am EST, this works out to being smack bang in the morning in Malta, which could impact your ability to service your customers. Make sure you’re aware of the terms and conditions of any service you sign up for, as well as any limitations which may affect you. Last but not least, remember the one thing you need to use a cloud based application, your Internet link. If this goes down for any reason, you won’t be able to access your applications, and even worse, your data. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place for such an eventuality.
Vodafone Malta becomes the fastest mobile network in Malta
Together with its technology partner Nokia Siemens Networks, Vodafone Malta has completed the upgrading of its radio network to offer download speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps in selected areas and country-wide download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. Furthermore, the introduction of HSUPA technology has also increased the upload speeds, now reaching up to 2Mbps. This makes Vodafone Malta the first network operator in Malta to roll out a technology that supports faster uploading speeds and higher data speeds for the future and for prospective radio technologies known as HSPA+. “This roll out means that we are now the fastest mobile network on the island with the greenest credentials,” said Inaki Berroeta, CEO, Vodafone Malta Ltd. “We have used this commercial opportunity to step up our sustainability indicators and reduce our carbon emissions, in line with Vodafone Group’s wide-ranging mechanisms to implement bestpractice sustainability leadership. This new investment will lessen our direct impact on the environment whilst ensuring higher capacity and better user-experience for the benefit of our customers.” “This €12 million upgrade investment in our 3G Network has enabled us to be the first in Malta to introduce download speeds of
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up to 14.4 Mbps, whilst completing country-wide coverage for speed of up to 7.2Mbps. We anticipate that by mid 2010 we will have 14.4 deployed country-wide. Furthermore we have enhanced our network with HSUPA technology enabling upload speeds of up to 2Mbps,” said Sandro Pisani, Head of Technology at Vodafone Malta. “The added benefit of this investment is that the energy efficiency of the new infrastructure is higher than that of its predecessor. We estimate that our radio network energy consumption will be reduced by approximately 25 per cent resulting in less carbon emission.” “We are launching an introductory offer for customers who would like to experience higher data speeds. The offer includes the new Vodafone PRO Internet Key together with a higher data bundle,” said Alison Ellul, Data Marketing Executive at Vodafone Malta. “Just to give you an example; with higher mobile data speeds, customers will be able to download a three-minute song in about 10 seconds or upload a 5MB photo album onto Flickr in 40 seconds”. “Nokia Siemens Networks has a long history of partnership with the Vodafone Group and Vodafone Malta. This upgrade is yet another step towards strengthening our successful cooperation,” said Sampsa Lahtinen, Head of Vodafone Customer Business Team at Nokia Siemens Networks.
YOUR SYSTEMS INTEGRATOR
www.computersolutions.com.mt e nte r p r i s e
COMPUTER SOLUTIONS LTD 141, Old Bakery Street, Valletta,VLT1457, Malta Tel: (+356) 2552 2000 | Fax: (+356) 2552 2001 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Island in the fun The best way to go from bored room meetings to sun, sea and no text is via Mauritius, says Mona Farrugia.
here is nothing on earth more stressful, more frustrating at times, or lonelier than travelling on business. There you are in yet another airport, swearing because one plane managed to miss its connection with the next by five minutes, fuming because your PA has yet again managed to find you the longest flight combination using the weirdest airlines ever, and Facebook-ing desperately on your Blackberry, having traversed three time zones and 200 bland sandwiches. Of course, that is not what everybody else thinks. Those who do not get to go to China or Singapore every other month or those for whom the day-return to Heathrow is not a twice-weekly occurrence, think that travelling on business is really cool. They do not realise that the bit in your contract which states ‘Flights over six hours warrant Business/First class ticketing’ is the part that has thus far kept you sane. They think you’re on holiday every week. You are not. But you are most definitely doing two things right. First, if you (or your PA) are canny enough, you are planning your summer holiday right now and secondly, you are amassing as many air miles as is humanly possible. Because this year, you have your mental compass set on Mauritius. Mauritius is where you will go to chill out, where the bzzzz bzzzz of your Blackberry is replaced by the sighs of the cicadas, where you are reachable, but only if you are mad enough to
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tell people where you are. Here, your husband or wife will be getting a good pummelling courtesy of a total stranger who is an expert in manoeuvring limbs into unimaginable positions, while your children’s screams will be those of happiness as the next wave tumbles them like a big, friendly giant. Mauritius is where all those air miles pay off. If you are taking your family, then there is no better place in Mauritius to treat them, and yourself, than at the gloriously family-friendly Sugar Beach Resort. Now I thought that any resort was the same as the next and Mauritius is full of them. I pursued the same line of thought when a CEO I once worked for, who was a three-flights a week man, absolutely insisted that there was nowhere better organised, more fun for the four children, more beautiful in setting, more chilled out for him and his wife, than Sugar Beach. So last year, using my Skywards points for a nice upgrade (it’s a long haul and I deserved it) I went along to check it out. The huge, airy reception which greets you is the stuff of beautiful, colonial architecture, and so are the rest of Sugar Beach’s low-rise buildings. Just past the reception there is the huge staircase leading to an equally huge pool beneath. Beyond are miles of white sand and quiet, bubbly surf. Oddly enough, even though the resort was fully booked, there was hardly anybody on the loungers.
Settling down in one of the very spacious semi-villas (that’s the normal standard room) I realised why. The way Sugar Beach organise their activities means that the hundreds of children in the resort were all divided into groups and busy doing things like kayaking, playing tennis, golf, windsurfing and something called a ‘swimming clinic’ which I suppose involved professionals teaching the young ones how to frolic in the candy floss surf. The Sun Kids Club is free for all the children aged between two and 11, which was, very obviously, perfect for all those stressed out parents. This philosophy is carried through the resort so that honeymooners and families hardly ever come across each other. For example, at the quiet pool it is obvious that children and their happy screams and splashes are not so welcome, although a few hours with a book and magazine most definitely are. I watched as, very discreetly, staff had a very quiet word with parents and directed them to where they would be happier and more comfortable. Since the place is gigantic, this is never a problem and there is always enough space. Even room allocation, I noticed, is organised accordingly.
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For older children, also known as ‘Teens Who Normally Never Want To Go Abroad With Their Parents’, there is Sungeneration, which is a more adventure-based club: campfires, pizza nights, video games, music TV, pool and DJs. Well, the video games are available, but even the most die-hard, pasty-faced teens avoided being cooped up. Most dads ended up accompanying their children to these places: it was obviously a bonding session par excellence. The mums normally vanished into the spa, which is quite superb. The fact that this resort is top notch is best exemplified in the quality of the food on offer: the buffet dishes are scrumptious and the wine is very decently priced. There is an Italian ice cream parlour (ice cream is food when you’re on holiday) and a neverending array of sweet things. The quantity - and quality - of restaurants is staggering. My CEO friend trots off each year, on the dot, to Sugar Beach. Every year he rents a mini-van and whizzes around the island (driving is on the left), getting pleasantly lost in the sweeping sugarcane fields. The pictures he brings back of his amazingly happy children are enough to make you look up from your desk and smile. You can’t get further from ‘business travel’ than that.
Mauritius is where you will go to chill out, where the bzzzz bzzzz of your Blackberry is replaced by the sighs of the cicadas, where you are reachable, but only if you are mad enough to tell people where you are.
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It takes Excelsiorâ€™s bespoke hospitality to get your deal done and dusted.
e extend our Grand philosophy of luxury, comfort and service to each and every guest, especially our business guests. Because when your mission-critical deal is done here at the Excelsior, our 5-star hospitality can turn your new deal into a full-blown corporate event. Our eventing skills and state-of-the-art technology are crafted to fit both your corporate culture and your budget. We bring purpose-built, corporate and banqueting
facilities to your conference table, too, should you need it. Thereâ€™s room for 1,000 seated delegates in 4,026 square metres of space with 14 different venue formats for you to choose from. For the comfort of your delegates, the Excelsior has 430 deluxe and Executive bedrooms with picturesque views across the waters of Marsamxett Harbour. Call the Excelsior sales team now on (+356) 2125 0520 or email email@example.com quoting M01, to see what kind of 5-star bespoke deal we can do for you.
A Member of
Getting there Emirates fly from Malta to Dubai daily and have the best connection to Mauritius available: arriving in Dubai at 1.40am, it connects at 3.00am in one of the bestorganised airports in the world. It lands in Mauritius at 9.25am. The return journey is equally well-spaced, but allows for a threehour stopover: you need that because Dubai Duty Free is still one of the best in the world and shopping is not really something you do in Mauritius. In May and June there is a buy-2-pay-for-1 offer in Business and First class so I would suggest that the best combination is to buy that for the parents and use the points for the children. Skywards allows transferring of points between family members. I especially love the lounges in Dubai airport: they were redone last year and are spectacular. Hot food is served all day long (we are talking serious dishes here, not a slice of pizza), there are chill-out spaces with PlayStations and Wii’s, smoking zones and showers. In First class there is even a full-on spa for massages and other treatments. On-board, for those travelling with children (and those who aren’t but would prefer if other passengers’ children were fully occupied throughout) the ICE system, - with its hundreds of television series, comedies, video games, the latest films on tap and at whatever time you want to watch them - is just a dream. Business and First have almost totally reclining beds and in the latter, some of the new aircraft even come with an extra mattress and a set of sheets which the staff will set up for you. Talk about pampering. For more travelogues visit www.planetmona.com
Food with a view Situated in the heart of St. Julian’s, The Villa is a 19th century property with a fantastic sea view terrace and fully converted to offer you the best facilities to suit any occasion. The Villa is unique as it is a truly multifunctional venue in the heart of Malta’s tourist and business centre with added facilities to complement its ideal seaside location. Offering a varied lounge menu serving delicious dishes, The Villa offers mouthwatering meals and a sophisticated yet chilled environment. Apart from lunch and dinners, The Villa also caters for receptions and banquets. Moreover, The Villa promises to offer quality across the board and to make your days truly charming and memorable. 54 - Money / Issue 01
Work & Play Photography: Tonio Lombardi / Fashion Stylist: Luke Engerer / Model: Mariano Shot on location at The Villa, Ballutta Bay, St. Julians
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Esprit jacket, €169.95 Esprit waistcoat, €69.95 Esprit trousers €79.95 French Connection t-shirt, €33.00 Primo Emporio shoes, €110.95 Hublot Big Bang King Black ceramic, €11,300
Money / Issue 01 - 57
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Mexx jacket, €159.00 Mexx t-shirt, €32.95 Mexx jeans, €75.00 Rolex Yacht-Master II in 18ct Yellow Gold, €25,500 Opposite Red Herring jeans at Debenhams, €33.00 Red Herring shirt at Debenhams, €29.00 French Connection jacket, €101.00 French Connection shoes, €40.00 Hublot Big Bang St. Moritz White Ceramic, €8,900
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French Connection shirt, €57.00 Primo Emporio waist coat, €75.95 Primo Emporio trousers, €92.95 Primo Emporio tie, €27.95 Primo Emporio shoes, €131.95 Patek Philippe 5960P Complication in Platinum, P.O.R 60 - Money / Issue 01
Esprit shirt, €49.95 Rocha at Debenhams trousers, €47.00 French Connection shoes, €150.00 Patek Philippe 5130P World Time in Platinum, P.O.R Money / Issue 01 - 61
Primo Emporio jacket, €151.95 Primo Emporio shirt, €69.95 Primo Emporio tie, €27.95 Primo Emporio trousers, €82.95 French Connection shoes, €86.00 Rolex Day Date II in Platinum, P.O.R
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Mexx jacket, €189.00 Primo Emporio cardigan, €82.95 Primo Emporio scarf, €27.95 Primo Emporio shorts, €62.95 Patek Philippe 5712/1A Nautilus in stainless steel, €22,000
Money / Issue 01 - 63
Get away from it all in these super-stylish buys - everything you need for the perfect weekend away. Photography: George Scintilla / Stylist: Kira Drury
01 Piazza Italia Red Bag, €21.99 02 Esprit Blue Jeans, €89.95 03 Esprit Red Top, €35.95 04 Primo Emporio Blue Top, €82.95 05 Primo Emporio Red Swim Shorts, €31.95 06 Ecco Flip-flops, €81.90 07The Body Shop Nail Kit, €13.40 08 Primo Emporio Belt, €41.95 09 Esprit Shower Gel, €9.95 10 The Body Shop Aftershave €13.00 11 The Body Shop Shaving Brush, €10.95 12 Red Herring at Debenhams Shades, €22.00
09 11 10
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01 Esprit Bag, €69.95 02 Monsoon Pink Sandals, €85.00 03 Peacocks Denim Shorts, €19.50 04 Jasper Conran at Debenhams Green Top, €37.00 05 Piazza Italia Navy Frill Dress, €32.99 06 Accessorize Pearls, €23.50 07 Piazza Italia Belt, €8.99 08 Monsoon Home Candle, €9.00 09 The Body Shop Bronzer, €13.00 10 The Body Shop Lipstick, €7.50 11 Peacocks Watch, €19.50 12 Accessorize Clutch, €46.00 13 Accessorize Embellished Sandals, €54.00
Money / Issue 01 - 65
Lemon, coriander and fresh black pepper basmati rice Boil the basmati rice. Finish off in a hot pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, along with some fresh chopped coriander. Finally grind some fresh peppercorns, and finish with a drizzle of lemon res.
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Black meagre set on a rocket, mango and roasted cherry tomato salad, topped with a teriyaki and orange dressing | Serves 4 You need 800g filleted black meagre 1 mango 4 tbsp teriyaki sauce
A lunch that means business By Mark Zerafa from Zeriâ€™s restaurant, Portomaso Marina. Photos by Chris Sant Fournier
100g rocket 100g cherry tomatoes Pane Olio olive oil Pane Olio orange res
Method In a hot frying pan, seal off the fish until golden brown and finish in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes at 180C. Dress the diced mango with the rocket in olive oil. Roast the cherry tomatoes in a hot frying pan and season accordingly. For the dressing whisk together the teriyaki, olive oil and a teaspoon of orange res. Place the rocket salad in the middle of the plate and scatter the cherry tomatoes around the salad. Set the fish on top and dress accordingly.
SoufflĂŠ pancakes with fresh strawberries and mascarpone cream served with a spicy, warm chocolate sauce | Serves 4 You need For the pancakes: 200g plain flour 2 egg yolks 2 egg whites 200ml milk 2 tbsp sugar 2 knobs of unsalted butter For the filling: 1 punnet fresh strawberries 100g mascarpone 100ml fresh cream 50g caster sugar For the chocolate sauce: 150g dark chocolate 50ml olive oil 50ml cream 1 teaspoon chilli res For the pancakes, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, pour the egg yolks and 1 tbsp of sugar. Whisk together, and slowly add the milk. In another bowl beat the egg whites into a stiff peak. Fold the whites into the batter. Put some olive oil in a hot frying pan, pour a small ladle full of the batter and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. For the cream, whisk the 50g of sugar with the cream and add the mascarpone while mixing. For the sauce, melt the chocolate into a bainmarie, add the remaining ingredients and whisk together. Place one pancake onto a plate, the strawberries on top, and the cream. Repeat the same thing and finish off with a layer of cream. Drizzle some chocolate sauce around the plate. Money / Issue 01 - 67
What’s on Investing in culture pays.
22 May Sail away Alexia Coppini will be holding her annual exhibition, entitled An Art Sail, on Sunday, May 22 on board the MS Hera II at the Sliema harbour quay. The exhibition will be inaugurated by Rev. Can. Michael Agius.
Opening 30 April We have a vision
Alexia Coppini will also be exhibiting two of her paintings at the Royal Academy of Arts London during June.
Four Visions, a collective exhibition being held at the Art Academy, 131 Constitution Street, Mosta, brings together the diverse visions of four artists expressed through a range of media. More than 60 works are exhibited, ranging from paintings and 3D mixed media structures to conceptual art and metalwork. The exhibition will be inaugurated on Friday, April 30 by H.E. Ms. Louise Stanton, British High Commissioner and Hon. Douglas Kmiec, American Ambassador. The four artists - Graham Woodall, Jackie Roberts, Graham Gurr and Maxine C. Attard - have a wide range of experience, training and very different backgrounds. They have previously exhibited locally and abroad, both collectively and as individuals. What they share is an open minded approach to art, craft and design, its expression, and the desire to demonstrate and to inspire independent thought and creativity.
7-8 May Art is truth disguised as lies The American Drama Group Europe makes a welcome return to the Manoel Theatre with Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. This play has proved to be Wilde’s most enduringly popular play since it premiered on February 14, 1895 at the St. James’s Theatre in London. Set during the late Victorian era, the play’s humour derives in part from characters maintaining fictitious identities to escape unwelcome social obligations. It is replete with witty dialogue and satirises the hypocrisy of English society. Wilde’s notoriety caused the play, despite its success, to be closed after only 83 performances and sadly, he never wrote another play. The Importance of Being Earnest plays at the Manoel Theatre on Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8. Booking is open at the Manoel Theatre on bookings@ teatrumanoel.com.mt or T: 2124 6389.
15-17 July All that jazz The Malta Council for Culture and the Arts presents this year’s edition of the Malta Jazz Festival, with a top line up of world renowned jazz musicians, in the fantastic surroundings of the Ta’ Liesse waterfront at the Grand Harbour, Valletta. Musician Sandro Zerafa is again artistic director of the Malta Jazz Festival, which offers a programme that old and new audiences are sure to enjoy. The Malta Jazz Festival will be spread over three nights between July 15 and July 17 and will feature the most important drummers in the jazz world today: Bill Stewart, Ari Hoenig, Greg Hutchinson, Dave Weckl and Dave King. The performances of Mike Stern and Richard Bona are a definite must for jazz fusion lovers. Singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding, currently a rising star in the world jazz scene, will also feature in this year’s festival. The Malta Jazz Festival aims to achieve contrast in its line-up. It offers its audience a diversity of styles - jazz fusion with
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Mike Stern, fusion and world music with Richard Bona, vocal jazz and groove with Esperanza Spalding, cutting-edge jazz with Ari Hoenig and The Bad Plus, Brazilian music with Francesca Galea and Leonardo Montana, modern jazz with Joshua Redman and Charles ‘City’ Gatt. Tickets for the Malta Jazz Festival are very reasonably priced. Single day tickets are available at only €15 each. Reserved seating tickets are at €20 and a three day pass can be bought for just €30. Concessions for students and the elderly are at €10 per night and €20 for a three day pass. Tickets are on sale from www.maltaticket.com. For the first time this year, you can also experience the Jazz Festival on board a specially chartered Jazz Boat, where patrons will enjoy a unique wine-and-dine experience to the sounds of the Festival’s world renowned artists. Tickets are limited and early booking is recommended.
Claude Camilleri is a Master NLP Practitioner and is the founder of www.successlodge.com.
A good day at the office Put your stress in the out tray, says Claude Camilleri.
et’s be honest - life can be stressful if we make it. An accumulation of little flaws over a day, a week, or a longer period of time, can build up and erupt in anger and anxiety. This can have a negative emotional and physical impact on you.
How can we prevent stress? The key formula is preparation, which can give you the tranquillity that you want. If you are having stressful days at the office, the first thing to do is to analyse your daily routine. What exactly are you doing? What is working and what isn’t? What trends need to be changed and what should remain the same? First, check your sleeping, eating and drinking patterns. If you sleep very late at night and wake up as soon as the sun is up, that might need a change. Try sleeping earlier at night and set your alarm for an hour before you leave home. These small changes could be the answer to your stressful day. Maybe it is your eating and drinking patterns that are fuelling your stress. What do you eat on a regular day? Are you eating healthy and nutritious food? Do you over- or under-eat? Are you drinking enough water? Are you addicted to caffeine? You are what you eat - your eating and drinking patterns could be causing you stress. There are many great resources out there to help you find the perfect nutritious balance. What about exercise? Many of us overlook exercise, yet it is essential for our body to work right. The only tangible thing we have till the last day we are alive is our body. Our body works like a car - the more you take care of it, the better it will work. Exercise is a great way to keep your body working well. Once you master your sleeping, eating and exercise routines, stress will be the last thing on your mind. Still, other unforeseen circumstances can lead to discomfort. What about dealing with stress at the office? What can you do to avoid stress? The most important thing is to find a job that you love. From personal experience, I can tell you that there is nothing worse than doing a job that you hate.
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Another tip is to get to work 15 minutes early. This gives you ample time to settle down and to prepare your mind for the day ahead. Learn to take deep and long breaths on the hour and every hour. Once you start this routine you will notice that you are calmer and more focused. If you spend most of your day sitting down, make sure that your chair is comfortable. There is nothing worse than sitting for hours on end on a bad chair. Also, do leg and feet exercises. Circular exercises like the ones previewed on long haul flights are necessary to keep blood circulation. Every once in a while make sure you get up and have a walk - this is good for your circulation and gives your mind a rest too. Also, if your job entails hours on the phone, ask for a hands free set - this is light, easy to use and gives you full movement. If there is something bothering you at work, make sure you bring it to your superior’s attention. Always choose the best time to bring up the subject and do this courteously.
Is your office well organised? If your office looks like a jungle of paper and files and nothing is in order, it would be a wise suggestion to take a morning off to get a proper system in place. My final recommendation is to enjoy yourself. Have fun and learn to smile more. Laugh when you can. Some of the Successlodge communitymembers have given me recommendations on how to control your stress at your workplace, including playing some background music, lighting up aromatherapy oils, taking up yoga, meditating, having a stress ball to release unwanted energy, and playing relaxing music when driving to work. How should your life be? Picture yourself smiling, happy that you feel good with yourself, and satisfied that you are taking care of your body, mind and soul. You are nourishing your temple with good food and plenty of water. You exercise frequently. You feel great. You hear the sounds of success. Your new found balance makes you calmer, more focused and above all happier. It’s your turn to share this wisdom with your peers.
Our body works like a car - the more you take care of it, the better it will work.
Business Lunches at the Phoenix
The Phoenix, your perfect host
The Mall | Floriana FRN 1478 | Malta | 00356 2122 5241 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.phoeniciamalta.com
Quick step Four quick Power Plate exercises. 1 THE STATIONARY LUNGE Your starting position is standing on the step, facing the Power Plate machine. Step with one foot forward in to the machine. Bend the hips, knees and ankles until you reach a lunge position. Hold your position for the desired amount of time. You should be feeling your trunk and front leg muscles.
A 20 min workout will fix it! If you’re too busy for long workouts, then the Power Plate is your shortcut to fitness. Don Ross shows you four quick exercises. The hours are hectic: you’re rushing from one meeting to the other, snacking as you go, and treating yourself to full meals at ungodly hours. As for the gym, you’ve got the membership and the clothes, but not the time to actually go. And it’s starting to show. For Don Ross at the Dr Fitness Power Plate Studio, “Busy people usually don’t have much time to dedicate to keeping fit. This makes it more important for them as exercise keeps your mind physically strong and your body physically sound. A strong body makes you quicker on your mental feet when you’re doing business.” At the Dr Fitness Power Plate studio, the Power Plate uses the whole body vibration, or WBV, to contract muscles 30 to 50 times per second, unlike the old-fashioned belt exercisers that just shifted skin around. The Power Plate not only improves muscle strength, but also increases flexibility and a range of motion while stimulating the production of collagen, creating tighter, more beautiful skin. The Power Plate also increases strength and flexibility. Moreover, it builds core strength, increases range of motion and improves muscle tone. The Power Plate can also help sports performance by increasing explosive strength, agility and muscular endurance. The Dr Fitness Power Plate special anti active-ageing package provides a simple solution to preventing age-related muscle loss, bone density loss, as well as wrinkles on your skin. Using the Power Plate, you can perform acceleration training exercises - these contribute to a more youthful feeling by fuelling an increase in the secretion of serotorin, the feel good neurotransmitter. The staff at the Dr Fitness Power Plate Studio will help you bring beauty back into your life while helping you combat the ups and downs of everyday life. What’s your excuse now! Contact Dr Fitness on E: email@example.com T: 2702 0376 or M: 7981 2235.
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2 THE STATIC SQUAT Your starting position is standing on the Power Plate machine facing the column. Maintain your spine neutral. Then sit down into squat position and hold position for the desired amount of time. You should be feeling your trunk and front leg muscles. 3 PUSH UP STATIC/DYNAMIC Your starting position is with both your hands on the front of the Power Plate machine and your toes on the floor. Keep a straight line between your shoulders, hips and feet. Your hands should be directly under the shoulders. You should be feeling your chest, shoulders, arms and core. 4 S HOULDER SIDE AND FRONT RAISE Your starting position is standing off the Power Plate machine side, to the column. Bend your knees and hip slightly. Grab the strap with one hand and perform a side raise. Make sure that the strap is taut and hold the position for the desired amount of time. Then perform a front raise and hold the position for the desired amount of time. You should be feeling your shoulders, arms and core.
Blah, blah, blah
here are three worlds that those with a sense of humour and self-preservation try to avoid like the plague. These are the confusing, frustrating and downright annoying worlds of finance, business and insurance, alternatively known as blah, blah, blah. For most they don’t even qualify as real worlds but are more like a parallel universe that we cannot avoid. We find this out when we are inevitably drawn into their black holes and are totally baffled by what’s in front of us, waiting for our signature. Take finance for instance. Unfortunately this covers our banks, mortgages, loans, hire purchases and all those other things that we wish we could live without, but unfortunately can’t. If we are lucky enough to find the home of our dreams, most of us have to get a mortgage to pay for it. Simple it should be, yet it’s anything but. After you have given the pimply bank clerk every personal detail, including your inside leg measurement, the loan still has to be approved. The fun starts when the blessed phone call finally comes through and they invite you to the mother ship to sign the contract. They say contract, but you are actually presented
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with half a rain forest printed in a language you seem to understand but not entirely, because it’s a mixture of Maltese, English and Martian. This is usually the point when our male counterparts step in. While everyone’s eyes have glazed over at the sheer thought of reading, let alone understanding, the amount of papers put in front of us, it is usually the women who start to ask what everything means. It’s here that macho guys give the alien banker that knowing look, and condescendingly turn to us with a “Let me have a quick look over it darling, and I’ll explain it to you later.” Now correct me if I’m wrong but why can’t a contract just say “Hi, here’s the money to buy your house. If you don’t pay us back we will reclaim your house and give you a cardboard box. Enjoy your new home.” Ahh, if only life was that simple. The same goes for loans, hire purchase and everything else. We would all know what we were signing and the positive effect on the environment would be amazing. Buying insurance is no better. Have you considered a new policy recently? Have you read it? Did you understand it? I thought not. How many herein’s and herewith’s do
Mind your business language, says Alison Bezzina, especially when it’s a woman’s signature you’re after.
we really need? Is there some form of keyword density that needs to be reached? These documents could also be greatly simplified and save another rainforest if they just read: “Dear X, we are your home/life/car insurers. If you have something stolen or damaged we will give you the money to replace it. If your claim is fraudulent you will get nothing. Have a nice day.”
rolls his eyes and insists car need whole new engine. Wife tells him where to stick it and drives off.
Fasten your seatbelts please - we are landing on planet business, a world where females are not openly welcome, so a disguise is highly recommended. True, some women have succeeded in business, and after much hard work they are now somewhat accepted by their male colleagues. Unlike lesser mortals who are just given the “There, there” treatment, these women might not be treated as simpletons, but are still bitched about for making it in a male world.
They tell us that it is all changing and that some women have reached the heady heights, but these are still very much in the minority. We are treated like imbeciles by those who have a room with a desk. If we enter these rooms alone, the aliens don’t try to disguise themselves or their race, and we get the whole spiel of complicated jargon, acronyms and words that they make up as they go along. But enter with a male in tow and the mask is firmly in place with some words that can actually be understood.
Business is a big umbrella and covers hundreds of situations - some of these scenarios are bound to be familiar.
Sadly this has gone on for decades and is improving so slowly that it will probably be several generations before we are treated as equals. So girls, what can we do to speed up the process? I can think of three things to start with: graduate from BLAH, learn to speak fluent Martian and grow male genitalia.
Wife’s car isn’t working properly, man pops head under bonnet and confirms her diagnosis that she needs to go to garage for a new oil filter. Wife does so, alien in overalls
Wife sees new mobile phone that she wants and husband says he’ll treat her. They go to store where alien in suit listens to her request, rolls his eyes and offers her a model so basic a cat could use it. Wife tells him where to stick it and walks out.
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